Sunday, July 24, 2011

If you're on the fence about your class reunion, go. Just go.

Thirty years melted away faster than I could have imagined.

And here's the bizarre thing: Nearly everyone looked the same as I remembered. After three decades. How is that possible?

My 30th class reunion was this weekend. Our class meets every five years, and I'd only made two previous gatherings; one year, I was getting married. Another year, I was having a baby. And frankly, I had never made attendance a huge priority; I still live in the town from which I graduated high school, so I reasoned that I frequently ran into former classmates. So what was the big deal?

It turns out many big deals -- big observations, anyway -- came out of the past two evenings. Here are just a few of them.
  • With few exceptions, everyone was just so genuinely nice. Seriously. The people I never really spoke to in high school because I figured they were conceited or fake or had nothing in common with me? I guess I was a pretty big idiot 30 years ago, because some of the people I enjoyed the most are the ones with whom I never shared a word from 1977 to 1981. The moral of the story: Never assume.
  • Girls who are currently in high school should make a beeline to date the boys who are not quarterback of the football team. Nothing against our quarterback, but he's no Jeff F. Not to embarrass you if you are reading this, Jeff, but you are such an awesome guy that we should all have vied for your attention back in the day. Case in point: Your regard for your lovely wife, who attended the reunion with you despite the fact that she is in the midst of a serious health situation. "I want you to meet my wife," you said to several of us. "She is amazing." Well, Jeff, so are you. Shame on some of us for not realizing that 30 years ago.
  • Along the same lines, some of the women who didn't call attention to themselves back in the day are drop-dead gorgeous now. This, I loved: I watched a couple of guys ogling a tall, beautiful classmate with a willowy figure and sculpted cheekbones. And I heard one saying to the other: "Who is that?" Guys: It's someone who never once had a date to a school dance because she was overweight.Your loss entirely.
  • A guy in our class who happens to be gay and married to a man brought his hilarious, delightful husband to the reunion. And they were greeted warmly by all, as they should have been.
  • A classmate who has struggled mightily against mental illness for years made the difficult decision to attend his first reunion. "After some things I read online, I thought maybe I would feel comfortable at this one," he said. He left early, but I so hope he enjoyed his time with us. What a brave, brave guy.
  • This feeds the soul like nothing else: laughing hysterically with one of your best high-school girlfriends about such nonsense as the time that you inexplicably crawled out of government class, or the time you choreographed a dance to a rap song, only to be rejected from your senior variety show. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) Sigh.
  • There is nothing in the world that can compare to the way you feel when you look around and realize you are surrounded not only by your high-school classmates, but your grade-school friends -- the ones you've known since you were 6, the ones who knew your parents and siblings and spent the night at your house and were your "secret Santa" at Christmastime. Those faces choked me up. (And Julie Diaz, if you're reading this -- you come home now!)
  • Everyone seemed to spend a moment looking at the memory board that pictured our deceased classmates. They were indeed part of our reunion, and I hope their families know that we tried to honor them.
As I've written before, I didn't love high school. I was unsure of myself and didn't know where I belonged. But this past weekend, I realized I belonged exactly where I was -- with the people who helped shape me.

Whether I was your best friend or never even said "hello" to you in the hall: Thank you for a wonderful weekend that I hope resulted your humming bad early-'80s songs all the way home. See you in five years.


  1. since I cover a lot of farm/ag stuff at work, I encounter a lot of HS boys who are farm kids -- and they are (to me) handsome, smart, dedicated and hard-working. and I know I wouldn't have looked twice at these boys in HS. and i was certainly no prom queen. We even once had a teacher who was pointing out to all us girls once (outside of school, at some event we were all at) who the nice boys really were and it was a pity no one paid them any attention because that was who we should be interested in.

    And boy, was she right. About all of them.

  2. Thanks, Jane. A time machine would be helpful in such situations. Not that I'd trade my husband for anyone, but I had no idea I went to high school with so many nice, nice guys.